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and his man cave on Salamina

Statue of Euripides, 2nd c. AD

Born in c. 480 BC on Salamis, Euripides had an estate on the island and wrote his last tragedies in a cave facing the sea. In the 5th century BC this retreat from society was highly unusual, but Euripides was by all accounts an unusual man.

Born into the landed middle class during the triumph over the Persians, Euripides served in the Peloponnesian War and lost his fortune through expensive political posts and contributions to the war effort, and spent the rest of his money on books—he was the first Greek to accumulate a private library.

He was considered the greatest poet of his age (some 18 plays have survived), yet he won only four first prizes. No one was quite sure what to think of his work. Where Aeschylus and Sophocles maintained a level of restraint and dignity in their characters, Euripides’ are full of passion; he broke sexual taboos, and refused to idealize anyone. The Athenians associated him with the other troublesome intellectual of their age—Socrates.

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Sidelights and Myths

Text © Dana Facaros

Images by Jastrow on Wikimedia Commons, PD Art, Schuppi